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Basak Bugay presents his new sculptures during the solo exhibition ‘Fugue’

By on March 22, 2022 0

Basak Bugay is an Istanbul-based Turkish artist whose work oscillates between the boundaries of performative theatre, psychology and the drama of the macabre. Although his work does not directly confront particularly gruesome or macabre subject matter, it does delve deep into the dark depths of the human mind. His work, therefore, embodies the dark side of our inner selves. His recent exhibition Fugue, a solo exhibition at Zilberman Istanbul, shared a series of sculptural installations spanning an assortment of mediums, including terracotta, ceramics and fabric, alongside a series of ink drawings. The art exhibition ran until February 12, 2022 and its next showcase opens on May 16, 2022 in a group exhibition to be held at Arter’s Gallery 0 in Istanbul. While sharing her recent work, she talks to STIR about her childhood and creative influences, as well as what drives her practice.




Slope, 2021, terracotta, fabric, fiber, ceramic Image: Basak Bugay


Bugay has a long-standing passion for theater as well as performance art. As a result, his static sculptures at Fugue embody the incomparable dynamism of performance. The visual artist shares with us saying, “Thanks to my mother, the theater stage has always been part of my life. I guess this is quite visible in my work. The interaction between the work and the public is one of the main issues that I try to highlight. I deliberately involve theatrical elements in my work. Bugay’s mother and father were both artists, costume designer and sculptor respectively. They each worked as professors at the Fine Arts University of Mimar Sinan, where Bugay also studied. Further discussing her influences, she mentions, “I am generally charmed by theater or should I say, the performing arts in general. I find the stage magical with all the disciplines it embodies; decor, lighting, actors, sound… Oddly enough, I’m not a public curious about visual arts. Honestly, there are maybe only a few works that touched me in the same way as the performing arts.



An installation view of Fugue |  Runaways |  Basak Bugay |  STIRworld
An installation view of Fugue Image: Basak Bugay, courtesy of Zilberman Istanbul


Bugay’s interest in performance spills over into his creative practice, similar to his interest in psychoanalysis and the study of psychology. This is further reflected in his exposition Fugue. It takes its name from the psychological counterpart of “fuga” which derives from the Latin “fuga” meaning “to fly”. The phenomenon of “dissociative fugue”, from which Bugay is inspired, is a rare form of amnesia. It indicates separation or flight from one’s identity as a result of extreme trauma. This concept holds an important ideological space in which the artist navigates through the violent and intimidating tendencies within the individual as well as society.

The contemporary artist further shares, “I first started reading about personality disorders to help me understand the dynamics of evil. Because I have always had and still have trouble figuring out the ground rules of relationships. Although I planned to finish my research at some point, I found myself digging deeper and it went on for months. Then I started reading psychoanalytic theories and it gave me a key to interpreting the world in a very fulfilling way. Since then, my artistic practice and my readings on psychology, psychiatry and psychoanalysis have gone hand in hand. Recently, I also started reading about archeology and evolution.



Aphenphosmphobia, 2021, terracotta, fabric, Bugay wood |  Runaways |  Basak Bugay |  STIRworld
Aphenphosmphobia, 2021, terracotta, fabric, wood by Bugay Image: Basak Bugay


Bugay’s longstanding interest in the human psyche goes back many years. The sculptor even wrote a doctorate. thesis that explored the space between psychoanalysis, visual art and artistic production. His interest lies in the concept of the collective unconscious which comes up several times in his work. Through this curiosity, she weaves ideas about childhood trauma, defense mechanisms and denial. She says: “I think it’s up to the public to define if I manage to represent the collective unconscious but I must admit that is my objective. I find it enlightening to see the interactions between the ontology of the individual and society, as well as its relationship to the past and the present. I am drawn to any type of bond and the tension it creates. It also shows in the materials and execution of my work…I tend to associate his behavioral or mental state with current sociological issues and see it as a repeating pattern from the beginning of the story.



Blackout, 2021, terracotta, oil paint, sandstone from Bugay |  Runaways |  Basak Bugay |  STIRworld Image 2:
Blackout, 2021, terracotta, oil paint, sandstone from Bugay Image: Basak Bugay


Personal exhibition of Bugay Fugue is an expression of the artist’s explorations and insights into these subjects. His work hot air balloon (2021), which first caught my attention, uses wood, fabric and terracotta to create an inanimate yet personified object-creature. The finish of the oil painting reflects the artist’s formal study of painting. What I love most about Bugay’s creations is the weird and mysterious nature of his art sculptures. The expressions and forms invoke the shadows of my own mind, bringing them to the fore from where they are often pushed away. Her work encourages the viewer to meet their own darkness face to face. By using simple materials and soft, muted colors, the artist allows the form to speak its own concept, excess drama disappears, leaving behind only the theatricality of our inner reality.



A portrait of the artist |  Runaways |  Basak Bugay |  STIRworld
Artist Basak Bugay Image: Courtesy of Basak Bugay





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Crowd gathered to discover the exhibition Fugue |  Basak Bugay |  STIRworld

Crowd gathered to discover the exhibition Fugue Video: Basak Bugay